Yoga for Grief, Part 1

Yoga for Grief, Part 1

As yoga is becoming more and more a part of my life I find myself turning to it for support, relief, and understanding in many different aspects of my life.

Last week my Nana passed away. It was, and still is, a huge shock. She had been absolutely fine, had just had surgery on her knee and was looking forward to being mobile again and getting back to travelling the world with my grandad (they were good at that). In fact, I was in the UK just a few weeks ago having a glass of wine with her and planning her trip to come visit me in Texas.

Although we didn’t live down the road from them where many of my family were lucky enough to be, my sister and I stayed with them for months on end, every summer, for what I think was almost 10 years. I really admired my Nana. She was smart, compassionate, adventurous, fiercely funny and had a real creative spark. When she worked she was in social care, and she’d visit the homes of many people who were down on luck or money and help them get back on their feet. In retirement, her and my grandad travelled the country and the world seeing incredible sights, experiencing the things they loved, and visiting family. Part of their email address was the acronym “friski” – finally retired intending spending kid’s inheritance. How badass is that!?

I particularly admired and loved her creativity – she drew, painted, quilted, sewed, made clothes, baked and decorated incredible cakes; each year she’d take her hand to a new art or craft and totally rock it. We connected a lot on art and music, but that was back when I was in school and doing art more regularly and playing instruments and singing. I think that’s something that has intensified my grief, that the last version of me she knew was one who’s light was dimmed by taking the “right” / impressive / logical path through life. She will never see what I become.

The first few days after I found out I stayed busy and tried not to think about it too much, I “got on with it”. I realised a few days in that it wasn’t working, and “get on with it” was an approach I take to a lot of fearful or painful experiences I encounter in my life. I was detaching from the feeling without giving myself time to feel. Our last workshop in yoga teacher training was themed on “More Than Asana”, and as part of that we spoke a lot about vision and goals, it’s interesting that when you’re on the right or wrong track, either being true or lying to yourself, the universe has a way of making that clear to you [aside: see my previous post where I talk about everyone’s own interpretations of yoga-speak, in this case a more critical –cough– engineers –cough– mind could interpret “universal signs” as an individual just noticing or reading things differently because they know deep down if they’re on the right track or not].

One-morning last week it felt like at every turn I was facing hurdle after hurdle. I was really late for work without realising, dropped and split a yoghurt as I was packing lunch, brushed the gate on my way out and left a big brown mud stain on my trousers so had to go back in and change, faced unusually awful traffic, took a different route to avoid it and made, literally, three wrong turns, and then after all that I looked down at myself and realised I’d forgotten my work ID. I thought back to the weekend and saw that the universe was literally screaming at me not to go to work. Looking a little deeper I realised I had been running from my grief, staying busy, never alone, and needed to take some time for myself to really sit with the information, really feel what I was feeling. I compromised with the universe (baby steps) and took a half day.

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